It is most invigorating and affirming to stand witness to new talent. New givers of themselves despite the cold, gale-force headwinds that rise up against most, if not all, artistic endeavors. Fortunately, Rising Sun, the more than mature and compelling Motema Music debut of pianist/composer Shuteen Erdenebaatar and her award-winning quartet, is one of those statements.
Let loose with three henchmen just as inquisitive and intent on making their stand: Erdenebaatar's second voice and foil Anton Mangold on-saxophones, flutes; controlled yet escapist at heart bassist Nils Kugelmann; and the muscular cadences of drummer Valentin Renner catch youthful fire and burn wildly through Erdenebaatar's eight substantive compositions.
The opening, "In A Time Warp," serves as Exhibit A. Symmetrical in design, the interplay between Kugelmann and Renner is not only a grand harbinger for Rising Sun but hopefully the music to come in the near and far future. Where Mangold takes the tune for its last two minutes is a thing of beauty. It is also the sound of someone ahead of his years, burning through concepts and conceits wantonly and joyfully.
Erdenebaatar, who wraps the world sounds of her native Mongolia and home base of Munich into a durable neo-classical whole, works and wrestles alongside Mangold on the thrill-a-minute "Ups and Downs." Propelled forward by Renner's boundless energy, the track moves with a fever pitch. Taking the whirlwind down a notch, the autumnal "Summer Haze" brings the pianist's confident playing and compositional style to the forefront. On the reflective "Olden Days," Mangold and Erdenebaatar duet like an old couple recounting the magic and mishap of their long lives together.
On flute, Mangold dances around Renner and Kugelmann's tightly wound, free form while the pianist injects a ruminative theme and highly contagious comping on "An Answer From A Distant Hill." Balancing perfectly the quartet's many leanings, it is the natural epilogue to the title track. Bluesy, exotic, and full of vigor, each player takes their thematic cue from a collective understanding that they're on to something bigger than themselves.
In a Time Warp; Ups and Downs; Summer Haze; Olden Days; An Answer From a Distant Hill;
Sun; Saudade; I’m Glad I Got To Know You.
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